Nazar beads, or evil eye beads, are traditional Anatolian beads used to ward off evil, similar to evil eye traditions around the world. The word 'nazar' is derived from the Arabic word for 'sight' and is sometimes referred to as a 'blue bead' or 'mavi boncuk' in Turkey.
Nazar beads actually have a meaning in Turkey. "Nazar" is considered bad luck, or "evil," and the bead helps ward off this evil according to much superstition.
But clearly in modern times, they serve the equally important purpose of looking super cool and being some of the best souvenirs to pick up on your trip to Turkey!
For newborn babies:
For obvious reasons, items with Nazar beads are one of the main gifts given at baby showers and newborn babies. Newborns are particularly cute and receive an inordinate number of compliments, making them a prime target for 'Nazar'. The beads help repel them and of course function as decorative pieces for the adorable newborn.
To protect against evil:
However, there is a caveat to all of this. Technically, especially for children, the nazar bead should not be seen or hidden anywhere on a child person. People will sometimes even ask if a child has a Nazar bead on them before giving a compliment. Of course, this is not practiced 100% of the time because Nazar beads can be seen in a variety of items, but technically - especially for kids - the Nazar bead should be hidden for maximum effectiveness.
On Necklaces, the Nazar bead is usually worn in an understated fashion, with the beads running along the chain or as an amulet at the end. Gold and silver provide beautiful contrasts with the deep blue of the Nazar bead, and you will see many different designs with the Nazar bead in the foreground.
Bracelets with many small small Nazar beads are also common, because bracelets are a common fashion accessory in Turkey. Men and women can both wear different types of bracelets, and occasionally the bracelet itself is made with nazar designs rather than as beads on it.
Wall / home decoration:
This is one of the most common uses of Nazar beads. Hanging wind chimes are very common, or some kind of small decoration on the wall or anywhere else. You will find something of this variety in almost every home in Turkey, and while you are looking for gifts, some of the most attractive things you will see are small ornaments that can be pasted anywhere in the house.
Many different clothing designs, both old and new, will include some form of the Nazar design. The design is so distinctive, when you buy clothes with it, everyone knows that there is only one country in the world where you could possibly have bought it!